WY Game and Fish Gauging Support for Potential Trapping Reform Requirements
Over the next 10 days, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will hold five meetings to hear public feedback on the issue.
September 01, 2020
After a continued push by Wyoming reform groups, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on safety and education requirements for trappers in the state. Over the next 10 days, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will hold five meetings to hear public feedback on the issue.
The decision was largely catalyzed by the January death of a Fremont County dog, Mac. After Mac was caught in a snare and died, his owner, Karen Zoller, and a group of other concerned pet owners in the community organized WY TRAP FREE-mont County with the mission of bolstering trapping laws in the state.
In April, that group and Wyoming Untrapped, another longtime reform organization, submitted petitions to the department asking that current trapping regulations be opened for revisions.
The groups argue trappers in Wyoming aren’t held to strict enough regulations. Trappers in the state can place traps on pretty much any public land, with only a few exceptions. They aren’t required to tell anyone where the traps are, not even the game warden, nor is it a requirement for trappers to report how many “non-target” animals they catch. Reform advocates say this lack of oversight hurts public safety.
Typically, these regulations are evaluated every three years, and the current code isn’t set for revisions until 2022. While the Game and Fish Commission in April decided not to open the revisions early, it did ask for more information on the issue. The request led to the creation of an internal working group within the department.
The group compiled a list of nearly 300 stakeholders, created with input from each of the department’s eight regional offices. The working group then surveyed as many of them as possible within a two-week window, said Jason Hunter, the Lander Region wildlife supervisor and the working group’s lead.
About 140 were able to offer input, Hunter said, though a July report presented to the Game and Fish Commission accounts for only the first 132 stakeholder comments — those who were contacted or returned messages by July 9.
Trappers made up the bulk of the respondents, with 52 providing input. Thirty-three said they were unsupportive of any proposed changes.
The group with the next highest number of contacts — landowners — made up only 13 of the 132 contacts. Each subsequent group contacted made up 10 or fewer of the total contacts.